Editorial & Opinion

Passenger ferry service is coming to Ocracoke

Passenger meeting Aug 31 step 5 ps 2015-08-31 18.06.45By Ed Goodwin

The state budget signed by Gov. Pat McCrory in July contains funding for an initiative that is poised to be a game-changer for Ocracoke tourism. According to a study conducted last year, this program has the potential to lure thousands of new visitors and millions of dollars in new spending to your community.

The creation of direct passenger ferry service between the villages of Hatteras and Ocracoke is arguably the most significant milestone for the N.C. Ferry Division since the construction of the State Shipyard in the 1980s, and we will need the community’s input and support to make it a reality.

Every team needs a leader, so the first step in this process will be to hire a project manager to oversee this enterprise from start to finish.

The project manager will work directly with our community stakeholders, including the residents and businesses of Ocracoke and Hatteras Islands, Hyde County government, and the National Park Service.

Community involvement is an essential element of making the passenger ferry a success.

The Ferry Division will seek opinions and ideas from citizens, and our team will keep you informed of our progress every step of the way.

Your input will help guide important decisions that will result in project milestones. Tasks ahead include building new parking lots and visitor facilities, establishing online and smartphone ticket systems, creating public transit options around Ocracoke, and naming and marketing the new service.

The natural shoaling that occurred in Hatteras Inlet over the past decade required the Ferry Division to implement longer routes for our ferries.

Gov. McCrory, state and local legislative leaders, and community partners have worked together to find a solution to overcome the challenges that nature threw at us.

The Ferry Division is committed to delivering a passenger ferry service that will relieve summer traffic congestion at Hatteras while providing the safe, reliable and affordable transportation that visitors and residents expect and deserve.

We hope to earn your support as we undertake this promising new venture.

To learn more about the Ferry Division and its services including the Passenger Ferry Feasibility Study, please visit http://www.ncferry.org.

Ed Goodwin is the director of the North Carolina Ferry Division and responded to the editorial on passenger ferry service in the August print edition.

For an earlier story on the passenger ferry project, click here.

For Ocracoke news, click here.

Folks tour the visiting passenger ferry on Ocracoke in May 2015. Photo by P. Vankevich

Folks tour the visiting passenger ferry on Ocracoke in May 2015. Photo by P. Vankevich